Mortgage Banking in Nigeria has oftentimes been described as unprofitable, no thanks to the fact that majority of the 34 Mortgage Banks in the country struggle, with some managing a huge portfolio of non-perming loans that have negatively impacted profitability and eroded shareholders’ funds over time.
A commitment to excellence: In May 2020, when Adekunle Adewole, a PhD. holder in Business Administration, assumed office as Managing Director of LivingTrust Mortgage Bank Plc, which was hitherto known as Omoluabi Mortgage Bank and 100% owned by the Osun State government, the bank was a marginal profit-making enterprise operating on a 96 percent cost-to-income ratio, implying that for every N100 earned, N96 was going into expenses, leaving only N4 as real financial value added to shareholders.
By the end of 2021, LivingTrust Mortgage Bank has grown in leaps and bounds both in operations and revenue. By December 2021, the bank’s balance sheet has grown by almost 300 percent and profit before tax by 1,000 percent. The bank currently operates at sub 47 percent cost to income ratio, making it one of banking industry`s leaders in converting challenges to opportunities at the least cost and maximum efficiency.
Since then, the bank has continued to record consistent growth, while defying odds and surpassing all expectations, to become one of the foremost mortgage lenders in the country. According to its 2022 Audited Financial Result obtained from the NGX website, as at the end of 2022, the bank’s gross earnings had increased to N2.538 billion from N1.627 billion it recorded in 2021. Profit before tax also increased to N1.005 billion from N768.209 million it recorded in 2021. A further testimony to Adewole’s midas touch lies in the fact that even though capital remains the same, the bank’s efficiency has grown by 48.81% in less than three years, from 94.99% in 2019 to 46.18% in 2022.
Under Adewole’s leadership, LivingTrust Mortgage Bank unarguably became the most profitable listed mortgage bank in Nigeria in less than three years, with its stock constantly emerging among the highest gainers in the market. From 58 kobo in 2020, the bank’s stock rose to N1:04k in 2022. Since then the stock had gained over 200 percent with its price standing at N3:07k as at March 2023.
The bank had also won several local and international awards for its sterling performance. In 2022 alone, it won no fewer than eight awards from highly reputable organisations. These include: Award for Chief Executive of the Year 2022, Award for the Overall Best Company of the Year 2022 and Mortgage Bank of the year 2022 by Daily Independent Newspapers.
It also won the award of the Most Improved Mortgage Bank 2022 and Africa’s Most Reliable Mortgage Bank 2022 by Africa Fintech Brands, as well as the award of OFI (Other Financial Institution) with Highest Impact on Start-Ups and OFI with Highest Impact on MSME accessing Credit for 1st time by the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN). In addition, the bank won the award of the Most Innovative Mortgage Banking Brand in Nigeria by Global Brands, Britain.
Also in 2022, Adewole was recognized by BusinessDay as a ‘World Class Professional who made the difference in 2022’ and was described as “a strategic thinker and doer who contributes to national growth”.
But such feats are not strange to Adewole, who could be described as a banking and financial wizard and a turnaround expert who has demonstrated business mastery, as well as an uncanny ability for defying odds and turning daunting challenges into thriving opportunities.
This writer once asked him about his vision for the bank and the Nigerian mortgage industry in general. This was what he had to say, “We came with a specific purpose, which is to play a leading role in solving the housing problems of Nigeria. And this has remained our primary source of motivation at LivingTrust; we work this, live this, breathe this and think about this in all our strategic moves; we have put this purpose at the core of our strategy, we are very intentional about delivering superior value, to the delight of all our stakeholders!
Career trajectory: Adewole’s foray into banking began exactly 25 years ago when he joined the then Omega Bank (now Heritage Bank) as management trainee, three years after graduating from the university. He joined Standard Trust Bank (Now UBA) in 2000 as a team member. He rose rapidly to become the Profit Centre Manager for Retail and Commercial Banking Businesses and Acting Branch Manager within two years before being redeployed to Ikeja branch in 2002 to head the large corporates team.
He moved to Broad Bank (now a part of Union Bank) in 2004, where he developed and directed strategy for turning around the Ikeja branch from months of consistent loss making to a star performing branch in less than two months. A feat that deservedly earned him a promotion to Manager grade level in June 2005.
He joined the old Equatorial Trust Bank (now Sterling Bank) in 2006 as manager of the loss-making Commercial Road Apapa branch. He successfully built a team that turned around the fortunes of the branch in seven months. In 2009, three years after joining the bank, he was appointed as the Regional Business Director for Lagos Mainland. Upon the bank’s integration with Sterling Bank, he was saddled with the responsibility of setting up the newly created Corporate Finance Unit in the Corporate Banking Directorate and delivered on not less than 10 ground-breaking projects, including Osun State Bond and Sukuk, rights issuance programmes, assets acquisition and development of several major infrastructure.
He was promoted an Assistant General Manager and deployed in the Credit Collections & Recovery Group as Group Head in April 2014. Sterling Bank was consistently the industry leader in credit collections & recovery for three years under his watch (reaching a 12.3 percent annual recovery rate against a 4.05 percent industry average in 2017). In June 2018, he resigned from Sterling Bank to pursue further education.
A passion for learning: Subsequently, his overwhelming desire for self-development and insatiable quest for knowledge led him to acquiring world class certifications in banking, finance, and strategic management. He was also trained in Aviation Economics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland.
Adewole has been an Adjunct Faculty at leading Business Schools in Nigeria, where he provides instructions to global co-learners with focus on strategic management, strategic human resources and leadership, organizational behaviour, and strategy execution from 2018 till date.
A lifelong learner: Adewole holds a Bachelor of Technology in Applied Meteorology from the Federal University of Technology, Akure. He earned an MBA in Business Administration from the University of Ado-Ekiti. Thereafter, he proceeded to the Metropolitan School of Business & Management in the United Kingdom, where he had a Master of Business Administration in Finance. In his multidisciplinary quest, he also earned a master’s in Business Law from the Metropolitan School of Business & Management, United Kingdom.
He holds a Master of Philosophy in Business Administration from Babcock University and also earned his PhD in Business Administration (Strategic Management) from the same university. In addition, he holds a Certificate in Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies from Harvard University, USA, as well as a Certificate in Global Management from INSEAD Business School, France. He is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School, where he attended the Advanced Management Programme. He is an honorary senior member of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Administration.
Adewole’s passion for excellence has further taken him to Oxford University’s Said Business School, where he is on a one-year study in Organisational Leadership with other leaders from 28 nationalities and seven continents.
He has published four peer reviewed articles in leading academic journals on his research interest, strategy execution and organisational outcome.
Article written by Remi Ladigbolu, a Lagos based journalist.
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